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NOT THE DUST OF A CITY BUT THE DEVASTATION OF MULTITUDES
In the last Chapter, we saw the rank defilement and utter destruction of the great merchandising city of Tyre, by divine prescription. Among its faults, in addition to setting itself as a god, was its wryly contemptuous disregard for Jerusalem and its delight in the ailments of that city.
We add now to what becomes suitable as well for Volume 2, Appendix also, and there this will have a hyperlink, constituting the 14th case in that listing.
Today, we look at Joel Ch. 3. Here, following the prophetic reference to what is cited by Peter on the day of Pentecost, one which pursues the times, namely Joel 2:28-32, in a magnificently brief albeit accurate account of a long period of final history before the day of the Lord, we have an account of what ? It is nothing less than that of a massif among battles. Many nations are to be gathered for this fray, with the word, "Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe," Joel 3:3:13. The sense is this, "that their wickedness is great." This is a judgmental conflict in which the Lord acts directly as in Isaiah 66, Micah 7, Deuteronomy 32, Habakkuk 3, and in Revelation 19 as well as Ezekiel 38-39. It is one of a type.
In this battle, the Lord declares, "... there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations." Judgment and wickedness are a toxic mix, and here to a great extent, as shown in parallels, a devastating one. There is not only a modus operandi, vast judgmental conflict and impact, but there is a point of launching for the Lord's assault. Joel 3:16 enlightens us on this score: "The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem: the heavens and the earth will shake. But the LORD will be a shelter for His people." As in other such cases, Israel's defence is from Him, the other nations, marauding and heartless seeming neighbours are the target and deliverance for Israel is the result. It is not that Israel did not have a time of remorseless discipline, but this is not that, moving fast at the end of the book, to the finale on this earth.
Other nations, some of them, have the result spelled out, differently indeed, in their own cases. Thus "Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom a desolate wilderness, because of violence against the people of Judah, for they have shed innocent blood in their land," 3:19. Judah on the other hand, "will abide forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation." The two are intertwined.
Indeed, we note, in parallel to Zechariah 12:1 - 13:1, that simultaneous with this is an acquittal of those to be pardoned in Israel, of those who had not yet been acquitted, we read; for as in Zechariah, in the very midst of these things, the eyes of Israel the nation at last are opened (as in Romans 11:25 explicitly, and in Ezekiel 37 parabolically), and there is a vast national movement back to the Lord, even to Him whom they crucified (as in Zechariah 12:10, this making the express topic for repentance in the nation).
With the national, international, the tumultuous and the judgmental characteristics of this assault (in fact a counter-assault) perfectly clear, including reasons for it, and the national outcome of it among the nations surrounding Israel, itself newly redeemed (Ezekiel 38), though for some time back in its place, we need to consider truth. Is God really saying that Israel is
not the topic, that
surrounding nations about it are not an intimately related topic, that
some of these will not have a specialised and special result of
this vast battle,
Jerusalem in that alien and alienated setting, having been beset,
Such is like reading a thermometer which registers 39 degrees Celsius, and declaring that it has frozen solid and there is no reading.
Indeed, the Lord as in Zechariah 12, goes to some length to emphasise the point that He is not talking bluster, or words of a meaning diametrically opposed to His intent, nor engaging in obscurantist revelry or arcane oddities.
Thus in Joel 3:16, we find that the Lord will "roar from Zion," but also that He will "utter His voice from Jerusalem." In case any might be tempted to imagine that in speaking of Jerusalem and Judah and Egypt and Edom, and the sins in mind for the parties, He was really talking about something else, where these nations did not figure, either actually or relatively, and deliverance of one, the persecuted one of the group, was not express and continued (because of the gnostic and allegorical passion which seems to move past all premises at times as if it had some divine right to obscurantism), the Lord speaks more, and goes even further. Not only is Zion mentioned; also added is the term Jerusalem, covering both the civic and the spiritual aspects, and this along with other peoples and nations, with various situations in view.
This emphasis is just as in Zechariah 12, where the Lord emphasises this obvious point by adding that Israel is going BACK to ITS OWN PLACE, and that this is - JERUSALEM! It is perhaps partly in case we forgot that the whole passage in that Chapter 12 is about that particular nation and its relationship to God, with terms such as "the house of David," "Jerusalem", "governors of Judah", "surrounding peoples", and expressions such as this, "the LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah." As in the highly particularised case, vast in its ramifications and relativities and relationships in Zechariah, so here in Joel, with the same particular provisions, He adds stress. Not only is it Zion, it is also to be named, Jerusalem, and not only are their vaguely surrounding peoples, they are such as Egypt and Edom; and not only is there an outcome of the battle, there is a cause on account of the dealings of such people with the people Jerusalem and the "children of Israel": all historical and not to be forgotten.
Vengeance is the Lord's and when He chooses to take it, He takes it, and it is not subject to alternative judges! (Isaiah 14:27).
The important details that this battle is in itself nothing to do with the biblical operations of the Christian Church, violence as a modus operandi forbidden as in John 18:36, that this is irrelevant, and that you cannot have Jerusalem = Church, when Jews return to Jerusalem still unconverted as here and in Zechariah, since that denies the type in the very endeavour to use it: these are not lost because they are disregarded by many. The fact that this is not a Gospel work, but a work of power and national judgment, for stated reasons, with dissimilar results for those concerned, not only as to Israel, but as to particular nations, is also not to be submerged because this with most of the entire context is then overlooked, principle and particular alike dropped over the cliff of preference to the doom of disregard.
Nor is it that the book of Joel does not move in anything like the Gospel, and that this is some submerged, esoteric oddity; for it has dwelt at some length on just such a topic in the most famous passage, Joel 2:28-32, without one's noting more that is available in the same Chapter.
You CAN believe anything if you want to; but not with reason. Reason itself here is churned to channels elsewhere in any such abortion as this, of direct, detailed, contradistinct, declaration for information about history to come, such as occur in identifiable clusters, convulsions and judgments here in Joel.
With blinkers on, the nations can thus propel themselves, with false prophetical dynamic echoing in their ears, to their certain ruin. It seems only civil to warn them. God does not merely make a point of doing what He says, He does not find companionable, efforts that result in countermanding His word, in His own NAME! That you see in Jeremiah 20. It is bad enough to ignore the truth, highly distinctive, it is worse to ignore it when God is the speaker; but to use His name for what systematically ignores it is a work of deception (not necessarily intentional, but yet not less deceptive for all that). It leads to a way contrary to that of the compassionate watchman (Ezekiel 18,33), that has vast danger for many. When however you insist on textual fidelity, you will not fall.